When a couple decides that they are ready to conceive, most anticipate a smooth and easy ride into parenthood. Unfortunately, some couples find it difficult to become pregnant and often try for many months (or years) without success. Once a couple has been trying to conceive for a year or more, or if extenuating circumstances may be interfering with pregnancy attempts, the best option is to meet with a fertility specialist such as Dr. Laurence A. Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs can discuss fertility treatment options, such as IVF, which helps patients avoid common fertility hurdles by supervising and assisting in the multiple stages of conception. But one factor that may affect in vitro fertilization success rates is a patient’s excessive weight (increased body mass index, also known as BMI).
Many of our Chicago patients wonder whether IVF can be successfully performed on overweight patients. The answer? While being overweight may have some impact on IVF treatment, ultimately, a patient’s weight does not exclude them from this procedure, unless they are morbidly obese with a BMI over 50. In a case such as that, the medical and anesthesia risks are too high.
IVF AND EFFECTS OF BMI
When considering IVF candidacy, Dr. Jacobs generally will not exclude a patient for treatment based solely on her weight; however, the patient's BMI must be under 50 to obtain anesthesia clearance for an egg retrieval done under conscious sedation. In addition, to provide patients with realistic expectations for treatment, it is important to understand that the success of IVF may be affected by a patient’s BMI. If a patient is either markedly overweight or underweight, success rates may differ from those of a patient within a healthy BMI range.
For overweight and obese patients undergoing IVF treatment, the primary source of concern is the negative effect on egg quality. Studies show that overweight patients, and particularly those who are considered obese, are less likely to develop healthy eggs. IVF treatment involves ovarian stimulation, and a 5 to 10 percent weight loss may increase the odds that healthy eggs will be produced, resulting in better pregnancy rates. Alternately, women who are severely overweight, or those who have been unable to produce high quality eggs, have the option of undergoing IVF treatment using donor eggs.
Once pregnant, obesity will also lead to increased risks to mother and baby, so weight lossbefore getting pregnant can be very beneficial.
SHOULD I LOSE WEIGHT PRIOR TO IVF?
If an overweight or obese patient is considering IVF treatment, losing weight before undergoing fertility treatment is a very good idea. Lowering weight by just a small amount (5 to 10 percent) can significantly impact a patient’s health and increase a person’s chances of successful IVF treatment.
Positive lifestyle changes before and during IVF treatment will help improve a person’s health and overall well-being, increase their chances for getting pregnant and, most importantly, enhance the likelihood of a healthy baby.
Dr. Laurence A. Jacobs takes great joy in seeing patients receive the news that they are pregnant. If you have been dealing with the stress and heartbreak of infertility, we can help you explore fertility treatment options that will help you achieve the dream of parenthood.Contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about our wide range of fertility treatments. We look forward to hearing from you!